Sunday, 30 January 2011

My Alpaca Cowl & Hat

The alpaca experiment is underway.  I knitted this cowl out of the yarn I bought the other day using a pattern I used previously for a Christmas present.  It knitted up beautifully and is finished just in time for the temperatures to plunge again on Monday!

And then to finish the yarn, I crocheted this quick and easy hat:

Somehow it looks purple in this light, but it's really the same blue as the cowl!!

Now we wait to see whether or not I'm allergic to alpaca ..... shouldn't take long to find out!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Slouch Bag Re-Done

Last September when I made this bag something wasn't quite right.  The strap didn't work and I shoved it to the back of the cupboard pending finding a more suitable strap fabric. 

Fast forward to last week when I was clearing out said cupboard in preparation for our move and I re-discovered the bag and also managed to find the fabric I bought sometime before Christmas for the new strap.  This morning I decided to sort it out and here it is - my slouch bag complete with a thinner, longer, sturdier strap.  This strap is long enough to wear across the body and is made from cotton canvas. 

Problem solved!!

I'm much happier with this version of the Slouch Bag - just can't think why it took me 4 months to fix it!!  

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Stash Happy!

The postman brought me these lovely fabrics this morning from one of my favourite online fabric retailers in Canada.  

Whilst everyone in blog-land seems to be trying to stick to their New Year's resolution to de-stash, I'm very happily stash building before we leave.  I'm sure I'll find some new suppliers in Germany (anyone got any recommendations in the Frankfurt area?) - but I need some materials to tide me over until then!

And it would be silly not to avail myself of free shipping while I can!!

I also went to my local yarn store today ...

This baby alpaca yarn is so unbelievably soft and cuddly.  I've been told that alpaca contains no lanolin and is hypo-allergenic, so there is a strong possibility that I may not be allergic to it.  How good would that be?!  I bought this yarn to make myself a big winter scarf and to test the allergy theory out. It's been so cold round here recently (down to minus 30 centigrade with wind chill) that I may just start knitting this up now!

And these are destined for projects I'll crochet while I'm waiting for my sewing machine to make it across the Atlantic - probably to make into birthday presents for friends later in the year.  The one on the left is a blend of hemp and cotton and the Tafi yarn on the right is a llama silk mix.

I'm spent up now!!  Oh well!

For other, much more creative spaces, hop over to Kirsty's blog.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Photo Books!

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love photography.  In fact I have another blog where I've posted some of the photos I've taken here in Canada .. but that's veering slightly off-topic.

When we left the UK in 2005 I went through a clearing-out phase and targeted those shoeboxes that everyone has stuffed full of their holiday snaps and other memories from the pre-digital age.  We picked our favourites and stuck them in albums; binned the rest.

Now we have digital cameras, the problem has multiplied quite dramatically.  We have photos stored and backed up on several terrabytes of hard drives.

Loosing my photos just isn't something I'm prepared to contemplate.

And then I discovered photo books!!

Some of these I made last year ... but I've been back tracking through our digital images (clearing up the hard drive on my laptop) and realised we had some other memories that I'd like to have in print form too.

Easier to do here rather than in Germany (OK - so that's an excuse, but it probably is cheaper!).

I used software on my laptop to create the books but there are many websites out there that offer exactly the same service.  Just Google photo books.  It's really simple - you drag and drop your photos into a layout and add whatever text you want. So far they've cost me an average of $30 each, but it varies depending on style, size and any additional pages.

I decided not to stop at holiday snaps, but did some family albums too!  These make (hopefully) the ideal gift - as some of my family are about to discover.

 Double trouble (me and my sister!!)

Now, what else can I do to avoid tackling the "Moving To Do" list?

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Sometime last year I decided to buy a book on Japanese temari - they look so pretty and I could imagine making a few in festive colours and using them as Christmas tree ornaments.  

Christmas came and went ... no temari.

It occurred to me recently that this might be a very portable project - ideal for the weeks between moving and getting my sewing machine back ... so I decided to try one.

It looks easy, but it really isn't!

I may have deliberately made the photo blurry so you can't see just had bad it is!  This one could well be destined for the bin, but I haven't quite decided!!  It does look like I'll be needing some other portable projects.

Kirsty is back with My Creative Space over here.  Take a look at what everyone else is making.

Monday, 17 January 2011


If you think it's been quiet on this blog for a while, you'd be right and with good reason.  We're mobilising for a move back to Europe in about (gulp) 40 days' time!!  We've been expecting it for a while, but there wasn't too much we could do before the paperwork was settled.

Since New Year I've been working on a couple of projects, but I can't show you till the recipients have had them for their birthdays!  So I'll take photos and save them for later in the year - there's nothing like getting a head start on these things!

In the meantime, just imagine me:

- digging through cupboards looking for stuff
- throwing things out (I'm not a hoarder - it's just more stuff to pack / unpack)
- out shopping for things that I won't be able to get back in Germany!!
- out shopping for yarn / ribbon for the projects I've got planned while I'm waiting for my sewing machine to travel across the Atlantic
- generally running around like a mad thing!
- oh, and trying to stay warm - it was minus 18 this morning with a wind chill of minus 28.  I so won't miss the weather here!!

Thing is, I don't mind any of this work as I'm so happy to be heading back.  As we're going to Frankfurt (where we lived before Canada), it's an easy move for us - we know what to expect and where most things are; half the stress is theoretically gone straight away.  I just need to find great yarn and fabric stores to keep me crafting once I get there.

I'm trying to make this a stress-less move!  My husband will be cracking up laughing reading this!  I am the original stress bunny!  We're very lucky though that his company comes in and does the packing - so I've just got to get organised before they arrive!!

Current stress level ... 2/10!!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

I am so excited - less than a year after starting this blog, I have been given the Stylish Blogger Award by Angie from Le Monde de Sucrette!!  Thank you Angie - you really made my day!!

So, now onto the conditions of the award ... firstly I have to tell you seven things about myself:

  • I've come back to sewing and knitting after a 20-year break.  My career got in the way, but now that I'm no longer working I need to fill my time and want to learn lots more handicrafts.  2010 was the year to learn crochet; this year I'm going to try my hand at quilting and felting too.
  • I have coeliac disease - so I can't eat anything with gluten in it.  I was diagnosed while living in Germany about 5 years ago surrounded by all those lovely German breads and cakes.  That was really hard, but I feel so much better without gluten in my life.
  • I'm seriously scared of heights (OK - spiders too) and in a former career I had a licence to drive a static racking crane that went 5 storeys high.  We regularly had to practice emergency crane evacuations which involved climbing down the racking wearing a harness - it was probably a good thing I moved to a desk job!
  • I'm really quite bossy - just ask my husband!
  • I have a 12-year old border collie, Pip.  We rescued her and her brother when they were about 6 months old.  Her brother died in March last year, but Pip is still going strong.
  • I am a qualified Teacher of English as a Second Language (TESOL) - I trained when we were living in Germany and taught in businesses in the Frankfurt area for 2 years before we came to Canada.  My qualifications aren't recognised here which is really, really annoying!
  • I have no sense of balance - sure, I can ride a bike (reluctantly!), but put me on roller or ice skates, skis, even just on plain old snow and ice and I very quickly end up on the ground.  Now, why did we move to Canada?  
The next part of this award is to pay it forward and nominate 15 new/ newish bloggers to receive the award.  So here is my list of those blogs that I read daily who haven't already received the award yet (as far as I'm aware!):

  1. Ady at Crafty Ady  
  2. Kristine at Ambassador Crochet
  3. Lucy at Attic 24
  4. Alice at Crochet with Raymond
  5. Paula at Feresaknit
  6. Fiona at Buy Design
  7. Heidi at Sewing Daisies
  8. Sara at Rhubarb and Ella
  9. Andy at Stumped Jumper (full disclosure: this is my husband's blog!!)
Now I'm stuck, because some of the people I would naturally have nominated have just received the award including Carol at Naturally Carol and Teje at Nero's Post and Patch plus of course, my nominator, Angie at Le Monde de Sucrette.  That would have taken me to just 12!! Note to self: read more blogs!

There are 4 duties to accept this award:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award (tick)
  2. Share 7 things about yourself (tick)
  3. Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered bloggers (tick - well almost)
  4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award (next job on the list!)
Once again, many thanks to Angie for giving me this award!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2010 Photo Montage

Just a sample of some of the things I made in 2010 as I sit here drinking bubbles (no, nothing French - I'm making do with a very nice Canadian equivalent - yep, they make wine out here and some of it is quite good!) and waiting to greet the new year!!

OK - so I'm really playing with a new website I've just found out about.  I was about to download an expensive photoshop action to create blog montages and found a comment on one of my photography forums about this website:  I used their mosaic maker linking to my flickr account to create the montage above.  So easy! And free!  Both excellent qualities!!!!

From the comments on my previous post, I've decided to do some quilting and some felting in 2011.  My last experience with patchwork (it's nearly quilting, right?) was aged about 13 when I made a patchwork cushion for my Home Economics class - can't say it rocked my world then, but I've seen some fabulous quilts in blogland and think there is probably a style of quilting out there that I may like and I have loads of fabric scraps after all!  Felting I have never, ever tried but there is a first time for everything and I'm curious!

My other self-imposed challenge for 2011 is to make at least one temari ball ... I've had the materials for a while but haven't got round to it yet.  The basic ball is formed - I just need to create the divisions and start the embroidery.  And I'm also tempted by sashiko....

Wish me luck and watch this space!

Happy New Year!  (we're nearly there - just 6 hours to go now!!)